USS Trumpetfish SS-425 (1945-1973)
This Balao-class diesel-electric submarine was laid down by the Cramp Shipbuilding Company and launched on May 13, 1945. She was sponsored by Mrs. Oswald S. Colclough and commissioned on January 29, 1946 with Lieutenant Commander Raphael C. Benitez in command.
After her shakedown and goodwill cruise into Caribbean ports in the spring of 1946, she sailed to Pearl Harbor. One of her training operations while in Hawaiian waters was the torpedoing of a captured Japanese submarine. She returned to the east coast that year and in late 1946, was used for training midshipmen.
The summer of 1947 saw her undergo conversion to a Guppy II, which increased her offensive capabilities and her submerged speed. She then continued to conduct local operations off the east coast. 1953 saw her participate in NATO Exercise “Mariner” before being deployed to the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet.
Upon her return, she continued to operate off the east coast and Caribbean through 1955. In 1956, she sailed to Guantanamo bay for Fleet Training Group exercises. That fall she joined a hunter-killer group for a deployment to Europe and the Middle East.
When Egyptian president, Nasser, nationalized the Suez Canal, Arab-Israel tensions erupted and British and French troops attacked Egyptian positions. The Trumpetfish sped to join other 6th Fleet members in peacekeeping missions in the eastern Mediterranean. She returned to her home port briefly before returning to European waters for fall NATO exercises. She returned to operate out of Key West until 1959.
Another Mediterranean deployment took place that year, followed by a home port switch to Charleston, South Carolina. She took part in exercises in the Atlantic before undergoing another modernization at Charleston, becoming a Guppy III. Local operations and Mediterranean cruises with the 6th Fleet followed, as well as intervention in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Other exercises and services followed in that decade.
Trumpetfish was then assigned the primary mission of providing services for antisubmarine warfare forces. In January 1970, she sailed to Cape Kennedy to participate in Florida training exercises and Operations “Springboard” and “Exotic Dancer III.” She returned to Philadelphia for an overhaul that would last into December.
Refresher training off the east coast in the spring of 1971 followed. She then headed to the Caribbean to provide services for the German Republic’s destroyer, Lutjens, in May. In June, after a fleet mine test, she began a six-week pre-deployment upkeep period. On July 23, she sailed for South American waters and Operation “Unitas XII,” where she joined Task Force 86.
She then traversed the Panama Canal on her trip down the Pacific Coast of South America before returning to her home port of Charleston just before Christmas. She continued operating out of Charleston with SubRon 4 through 1972, deploying to the Mediterranean on January 25, 1973. She later made torpedo tests and operated with a British aircraft carrier before returning to Charleston.
The Trumpetfish was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list on October 15, 1973. She was then turned over to the Brazilian Navy, who operated her into 1980.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially throughout conflicts of the last century, submarines also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. However, these risks extend beyond the inherent dangers that existed while operating the vessels during military conflicts. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were also common aboard submarines because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Furthermore, the enclosed environment of submarines put servicemen at an even higher risk of exposure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with or served on submarines should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.